Reviews for Pale Faced Tark
Aelaer chapter 2 . 10/19/2009
Wow! I wasn't expecting such a solution- and I love it! And I think it's wonderful that he decided to spend more time down south- great ending.

I, to say the least, want more. Thorongil, Aragorn, goodness, I'm not picky. I feel spoiled by all your wonderful stories coming so quickly. I can't wait to see what's next, whether it's a multi-chapter or a one shot.
ilysia chapter 2 . 10/19/2009
I'm quite excited that you've added this companion chapter, of sorts, to the first. While the original chapter worked very well on its own, it did leave some rather urgent questions, and this chapter, while not leaving us with a happy ending, exactly, does give a measure of closure that is always lovely to have. These two chapters create a nice juxtaposition- different men, different cultures, but the same humanity.

Something that really struck me was the "intrinsic value of rope". God, what an awesome way to get across how frugal everyone in this culture, by force of necessity, is. It's something I never would have thought of, but even such things as rope are to be valued and preserved in a land where water is the most precious and rarest commodity in life.

It's unusual and interesting to see Thorongil's thoughts on the sacking of Umbar after the fact, after he's seen just who it was that died there, besides the corsairs and the agents of the enemy. Simple people, good people. These are the casualties of war. It's not pretty, but he knew that before and he knows is even better now. He's seen the price of war in an enemy country. I can see this working to form who he is later in life and, after the war, being a reason why he 'sued for peace' with Harad, as you said.

I love, too, how you've tied in the quote from Two Towers; it's a good quote, but I'd never considered how it might be based in Aragorn's own experiences. But then, most things are based in his experiences, aren't they? Trading the Ring of Barahir for his life seems like a simple choice at first, but when you go on to list its history, from Valinor to Middle Earth before the destruction of Beleriand all down the line of hidden kings... then things become more complicated. But when weighed against a life, what is a piece of jewelry, no matter how storied? Aragorn made the right choice, the only choice, but it was far from simple. Poor man.

The old man has developed in this addition, and I find myself wondering what went through his head when he opened his door to find a dying tark leaning there. And I wonder, too, what the villagers thought. Did they know that the hated pale-face was being sheltered in the house of one of their own, or did they think he had gone off into the desert to die? It seems as though they must have surely known that Thorongil could not have simply wandered off.

'I will not forget.' These words- and his decision to carry on southward despite his brush with oblivion- bode well for the man that Thorongil is, and the king that he will become. I thank you once again for giving us this brilliant glimpse into the things that made the ever-familiar Ranger of Tolkien's tales who he is. Bravo!
RS1 chapter 1 . 10/18/2009
Read this on Teitho and didn't know it was you! Wow! I cringed reading this.

As I was reading this, I had a feeling the "tark captain" was Aragorn (with your description and all) but at the same time, I was thinking, "It can't be him... how the heck would Aragorn find himself in this predicament"...it can't be him!

I immediately liked the basket weaver. He is a person who is coping with the situations that life has dealt him...a very likable person.. A person who's seen so much that he has been numbed to everything..but yet he still felt empathy..A kind soul.

Your descriptions were very vivid and the whole story was playing right in front of me...which made reading this story so difficult.
cairistiona7 chapter 1 . 10/18/2009
It speaks well of the strength of your writing that even though Aragorn as Thorongil doesn't appear until five paragraphs have passed, I was drawn in completely into the world of this old basketweaver. His worldview is fascinating, for it is so markedly different from the familiar Northern denizens of M-e that we know and love. He is a desert-dweller, one of a people who view the sun as enemy as much as life-giving friend. And the old man himself is an enemy, for we all know of the troubles his people have given Gondor. And yet this old man immediately demands our sympathy. Enemies they may be to Gondor and the North, but can honor and kindness exist here despite that? This is the spark of hope that drives this story.

And then comes paragraph six and the dreadful realization that this man tied to the pillory is Aragorn. That you give no real reason for his arrival in such terrible straits is most compelling, for it leaves it to the imagination to answer the questions, "Why? What happened that Aragorn is so desperately poor and thirsty? How did it come to pass that our mighty Ranger and future King is forced to beg in this wayside place?" The same is true at story's end, when we read of the basketmaker's kindness and sigh with relief. We're left to wonder how in the world Aragorn will survive, even when he is set free. Will the old man take him in? Will someone else step forward with water and comfort and mercy now that the punishment is fulfilled? Or will Aragorn stagger away from this village only to find the same reception waiting in the next?

Answers to those questions are less important than knowing that even if his troubles continue, he will survive, because you've shown so beautifully the hope that waxed strong after waning so perilously low. One can only imagine what Aragorn's prayer was (again, it's the lack of that sort of detail that is a strength here), but we are left in no doubt that he has found a well of strength that will not run dry.

A simply masterfully written tale!
estelcontar chapter 1 . 10/18/2009
That was a most difficult story to read, but a very well crafted one and it got my vote for first place. Well done.
Inzilbeth of the Dunedain chapter 1 . 10/18/2009
Oh gosh, this story was almost too painful to read but you did such a brilliant job of the describing the settling, the old man and Aragorn's terrible plight that I had to see it through to the end. And it was worth sticking with it to come across that moment when Aragorn's hope was renewed and for no concrete reason other than his own determination that he would not die. An excellent story, Canafinwe, but oh so dark. I do hope Aragorn was released at sunset.
Mirach chapter 1 . 10/18/2009
When I saw your name on the list of authors in this teitho, I just *knew* that this story is yours! Congratulations to the 2nd place! And how many different ways to toture our favourite ranger there are! I love the irony that when I make him cold and wet, you make him hot and thirsty! )

I like your choice of the narrator! If you would describe it just in the third person, we wouldn't get such deep glimpses into the culture and the everyday life of the haradhrim village, even their beliefs and Sauron's role in their life.

It is so painful to watch what's happening there! The picture in your story is so vivid, and gut-wrenching, and visceral, and excruciating... (I'm borrowing your words, because they are so fitting for it!) Poor, poor Thorongil! And in the torment, you show his inner strength. He doesn't react to the teasing of the children, and then... oh Valar, then he prays! That renews his will to survive, but it moves the old man, too... You show the power of prayer so amazingly! I'm in awe...

And I love the memont when the old man remembers the tark captain like "a pale-faced demon clad in black mail, his eyes twin orbs of shining white", and compares him with the stranger, not knowing that it is the same man!

His thanks to the old man is a powerful closure to the story, but I must think on that what happened next. Will they return him his clothes? Will they allow him to drink from their well? There are no other wells near the village, it seems. And he will be left alone, among enemies, with the wounds from the sun... I know that he has made up his mind to survive, but I fear for him, because I know that there is nobody who would offer him comfort after his torment... Or will the old man find courage to take him under his roof until his wounds heal? You are leaving me very worried at the end of this story, you know...
Elenothar chapter 1 . 10/18/2009
*sniff* You like angsty one-shots, don't you?

I liked the character of the old man, he understands more than many considered smart.
ilysia chapter 1 . 10/17/2009
Ai, poor man! We're really running the gamut, aren't we? First the cold north on the brink of winter and now the horrid sun of the far south! I do love it though, the scope and depth of your stories. It's always a joy to read your newest, because I'm never quite certain what to expect, aside from excellent writing and characterization.

This story immediately stood out simply because of the POV you used; normally I'm not fond of stories written in the present tense, mostly because I think it's difficult to do it well, but you pulled it off to perfection, making it so that I noticed nothing but the story that was progressing and the thoughts of our elderly, unnamed narrator. And he, too, was well done. There's really so very little out there that looks at Harad or the culture or the place (region? country?), so this was a treat. I loved the slyly inserted bits of information that built up the history and culture of the village without performing the dreaded information dump. The high value of water, the deference to the God of Death, the hatred of the tarks. Brilliant. I was particularly drawn to the fact that the people of the village are generally kind to the poor and destitute, save when that person is from the north. Then all bets are off, eh? And yet that seems to be a generally accepted way of doing things, very common, very human.

The inclusion of the Eye was also wonderful. The varying beliefs of the villagers regarding the Eye (is it a servant of the God of Death? is it the God of Death? do the tarks serve it? does it even exist?) are so reminiscent of the rumors that do tend to flourish whenever a distant power is concerned. And I love that, even this far south, the people know of the Eye, know of its power, even if they are unaware of what Sauron is.

And then there was a tark. Really, Aragorn just can't catch a break, can he? It's painful to see such pain, and pain caused not by people (well, not directly, at least) but by the sun. Reading this made me glad that it's nearly winter, and cold at that. You worked wonders with descriptions here, going far enough to get the point across but not so far as to turn me away from what I was reading.

The interaction between the tark and the narrator, though brief, was intense, and though they will never meet again, this is something that neither will ever forget. One, because he was saved by a supposed enemy; the other because he, for the sake of a supposed enemy, defied the God of Death.

This was a brilliant look at human interactions, with great and amazingly, well, realistic characterization throughout. You have the incredible gift of making your characters absolutely believable, and that is one of the reasons your stories are always such a joy to read. And the reason, why, perhaps, I can never seem to stop when I'm reviewing one of them! Bravo, and I hope to see more soon!
Aelaer chapter 1 . 10/17/2009
As usual, you continue to impress me with every part of your writing- the characterization of both canon and OC characters, the writing style, the whole tone of the piece, and the powerful ending. I feel very lucky that you decided to write about my favorite character so beautifully- I hope you have many more ideas and enough free time and inspiration to write them. It has been long since I've been so excited over a new discovery in fandom.

You depicted the racism so well- it starts at such a young age. Likely more than not the Southrons would have received similar treatment in remote parts of Gondor, at the least. Who can say how an enemy would be treated in a large city in either country? Would be interesting to see interpretations on that... I am not sure how I would do it. It's such a pity that such racism as you depicted still exists even today. Truly terrible.

I do sort of wish that the protagonist was younger rather than older simply for the hope that if the King were to ever visit Harad, he would see him and recognise those eyes. But nonetheless, wonderful tale! You have been writing so many that I am eagerly expecting another story in another week or something :P Cheers!
Lirulin-yirth-k'aio chapter 1 . 10/17/2009
From chill to heat so? Well, well, it never ends... I uppose it's hard to be oneof the main characters, though mentioned by many and pitied by even more...

You are certainly keen on describing all these various states the nature can have to torment the living ones - here you have all my respect!

May I ask how he got there? I was not watching at that ime, I'm afraid, and have missed something (Earendil aske me to sing for him, so I was a bit busy).

P.S. And perhaps it was not a god, but a goddess... the merciss lady, already cursed by one mariner in a recent fic that we both know... (I have more to say about this matter but perhaps not here, but in PMs? ;))
MP brennan chapter 1 . 10/17/2009
Excellent fic! There aren't enough good Harad stories out there, but this tale rises to the occasion. I really enjoyed this portrayal of Haradric life, especially the organic growth of the village, their lack of a true governing body, the economic dynamics you hinted at. You did a good job of showing how war and the alliance with Mordor affected even such an isolated region. The narrator is a sympathetic and fully developed character, even without having a name. The juxtaposition of his conception of "the tark captain" and the reality before him was particularly effective.

Thank you for a touching and thought-provoking read!
BM originally chapter 1 . 10/17/2009
Wow-that was intense! Really descriptive and realistic-I was getting hot just reading it! I've got a pretty good idea who the Tark is :)

You did a nice job with this and have talent! Hope you have many more stories in store!
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